January 29th, 2008
04:00 PM ET
14 years ago

Obama: I didn't snub Clinton


The moment: Obama looks toward Sen. Clair McCaskill as Kennedy and Clinton shake hands. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

(CNN) - It seems a snub is in the eye of the beholder.

The question swirling around Barack Obama Tuesday: did he, or didn’t he, deliberately snub presidential rival Hillary Clinton at the State of the Union speech?

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, the Illinois senator said all the talk swirling around the moment the two crossed paths Monday night is much ado about nothing. (Watch Obama comment on the moment.)

"I was surprised by sort of the reports this morning," Obama told reporters. "You know there was the photograph in the Times about, sort of, me turning away. I was turning away because [Sen.] Claire [McCaskill] asked me a question as Sen. [Ted] Kennedy was reaching for her."

"Sen. Clinton and I have very cordial relations off the floor and on the floor. I waved at her as we were coming into the Senate chamber before we walked over last night," he continued. "I think that there's just a lot more tea leaf reading going on here than I think people are suggesting."

The moment came at Monday's speech when Clinton headed to shake hands with a congressman seated in front of Obama. CNN's Jessica Yellin reports that Kennedy, seated directly next to Obama, then moved to shake Clinton's hand. As the two senators spoke, Obama turned to look at the back of the room. It was only after Obama turned away, Yellin reports, that McCaskill struck up a conversation with Obama.

McCaskill also commented on the incident Tuesday, calling it "one of those accidents that just happened and got caught on film."

"There was a wave and there was a friendly moment," she said at an Obama campaign press availability. "And I think that, as somebody who watched the whole thing, I was amazed when I woke up this morning and I was part of it, I didn’t even realize. I mean, it was one of those things that all of a sudden it's being blown into something that it frankly just wasn’t."

- CNN's Chris Welch and Alexander Mooney

soundoff (2,059 Responses)
  1. Evan

    It's amusing that people here are commenting on Obama's character because of this joke of a "snub," and yet nobody is mentioning Hillary's breaking party rules, and trying to cheat her way into getting delegates from Michigan and Florida.

    What a joke.

    January 29, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  2. Sally, San Antonio, TX

    Character is revealed as much when one is winning as when one is losing. Obama had a stellar day yesterday and then he stepped in it...big time. Now we know a little more about this man.
    At least with Hillary we know all about her, we've seen her warts, her wrinkles, her smiles, her heartbreak, her weak points and her strong points. But with Obama we know very little and the behavior he showed last night gives us a great deal of insight.

    January 29, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  3. Dan

    apparently not the uniter we all thought we were getting.

    January 29, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  4. Mauri

    Sometimes the truth will surface when it's least expected, let alone caught on videotape. His response, "I didn't mean to....." is a prelude to what we'll all be hearing if Obama is elected to office. Did anyone hear Mrs. Schlossberg say she was drawn to Obama by her teenage children? So much for the inspiration by her late father. Regardless, how much more meaningful it would have been for Caroline Schlossberg to wait until the primaries were over. As for Teddy, who just last week was drawing tee-hees at the mention of his name, he has just proven that Obama's "change" has been derailed.

    January 29, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  5. Mark

    oh lord. now its racial. my god what a society we live in!

    January 29, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  6. Annie

    Why don't you announce all the important people that back Hillary? and all the org. that back her? Including the New York Times. What about the Kennedy's who are backing Hillary? You make it sound like nobody likes Hillary. Some people will vote for anyone but a women! They don't care that Hillary is the one for the job. Some of the men who are backing Obama wish they could run, or did run and lost. It's not a race card, it's men against women card.

    January 29, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  7. Margot

    Obama needs to grow up and start acting like a grown up.... instead of sulking away...

    obviously this kid lacks experience, maturity and honesty...

    often body language and actions speak more loudly than words... and frankly Obama you're a good talker but you have some growing up to do...

    come back in a couple of decades when you've actually done something, instead of voting "present" a bunch of times.

    January 29, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  8. Carrie

    Poor Hillary, the victim. Where is Bill to fight her battles?

    Who is to say that Hillary would have shaken Obama's hand? Oh wait, she is a phony with that fake laugh. Ha!

    Obama 08

    January 29, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  9. adams

    Proof is in the pudding.

    Another perfect example of Obamas Absurd Amature behavior

    January 29, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  10. Hcollins

    On the Kennedy endorsement :

    If Hillary and his local NOW chapter are miffed about not getting Ted's blessing in this race, consider how his 27-or-so nieces, nephews, children, and grandchildren who have devoted their lives to public service must feel?

    Why hasn't he mentored a single one of THEM into national prominence over the past 40 years?

    Something is fishy here, and it ain't the otter exhibit.

    January 29, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  11. Kevin

    Maybe he snubbed her. Maybe he didn't.

    Really, who gives a rip?

    January 29, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  12. Amber

    If Obama was being asked a question then why was both of them clapping. Obama diffently stubbed her. If the rolls was switched then the news would all be talking about how Hillary did Obama wrong, but Obama said he didn't do it so its dropped. Also how come McCaskill can talk bad on the press but when Bill Clinton said something bad about the press that's a bad thing. Bill is just supporting his wife like Obama's and Edwards's wife are doing for them. Obama doesn't have any experience his only been in the Senate for one or two years he doesn't know the goverenment enough to run the country. All I know is if Obama gets the nomination then I will vote Republican.

    January 29, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  13. David

    I dont understand why CNN is making a mountain out of a mole hill. I dont believe that it is necessary to teach Obama some manners. He is a well cultured politician and he has never attacked any candidate during his campaign. Bill Clinton humuliated Obama refering his candidacy to that of jackie but it was a good manner on the part of the former president of the United States of America. Now Obama is talking to Mccaskil and somephotograper took that picture from behind and it became a story. Do you guys believe that Obama is that mean? Its really silly.

    January 29, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  14. Jason

    I don't get it. So she shakes hands with the person in front of him and HE'S supposed to say hi or something?

    They see each other and greet at every debate. They're RUNNING against each other for president, and this moment comes two weeks after Bill and Hillary decided to go for the jugular on Obama. That moment didn't deserve any recognition.

    They said hi on the way in. What more do we want them to do, hold hands?

    January 29, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  15. democrat_2008

    Obama's arrogance is show up (a little too early perhaps?)

    January 29, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  16. Francis

    Obama is lacking in grace and good manners. Just as he did in the debate with his unseemly comment on Hillary being "likable enough".
    Unfortunately this may be a sign of immaturaty and calls into question what he likes to tell everyone he is:"a Uniter" !!! He might wish to start with good manners...

    January 29, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  17. mike




    1.28.09 NEVER FORGET

    January 29, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  18. benvictor

    So gracious of Teddy to greet Hillary. Teddy must now regret endorsing the arrogant, the flippant, the loser Obama. This photo when blown up and distributed across the country will be present at every Obama rally. He will be greeted with it at the debate. Hillary could not have asked for a greater gift. Astounding that right after Teddy endorses him, Teddy is the one shown shaking hands with Hillary. Obama must have been hurt with such graciousness by Teddy.

    January 29, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  19. Robert, Gastonia, North Carolina

    If this were the first time he was snide or condescending I would shrug it off, but its a pattern of unbecomeing behavior. Remember his comment, " your likeable enough Hillary"? It wasnt only what he said but the sour puss which he had on when he said it. He is neither professional nor a gentleman. It took a lot of guts for Hilary to go over to Ted Kennedy and had she been given the chance would have shook hands with Obama as well. Thats the kind of person she is. She does what is propper and has a sense of common decency about her. Once again obamas lack of character is out there for the whole world to see and most likely noone will call him on it. if the tables were turned Al Sharpton would be up in arms and Obamites would be calling for the nation to censor her. Hypocricy rules in Obama land.

    January 29, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  20. Todd

    If he can't even take responsibility for snubbing a comrade and the eventual president of the United States, how would he have been as president. Oooops I am so sorry we dropped a bomb on you, someone tapped me on my shoulder and I was not looking. What a crock. It is a good thing we will never know, as he will never be the next president of the US. I will vote Republican before I throw away my vote on this democrat.

    January 29, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  21. democrat_2008

    Grow up Obama!!!

    January 29, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  22. Ardnuas

    This is absurd !!! The media needs viewers, so they HAVE to create drama to get people to watch. When will we learn? Just because the media says something, does NOT mean it is true!! Give Barack a chance to prove himself, let's go forward instead of backwards.

    January 29, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  23. rachel

    LOL this is all funny I posted early. I really would like a clinton and obama ticket but not sure thats gonna happen. I begining to see him for who he really is.I Honestly think Obama's real nature is starting to show. You can fool some of the people all the time but you cant fool all the people all the time. I mean people may think his little jokes and comments are funny at the debate, but I rolled my eyes right along with John in the one debate when Obama say we have an Africian American male, a Woman and then John running. What kind of comment was that? Like John doesn't count for anything. All politicans have lied made mistakes Obama acts like his poop doesn't stink just like everyone elses. I noticed it when he took and still takes the holier than thou attitude about not voting for the war. The was his whole mantra for a while. I am sure he has and will make mistakes so he needs to come up off of it and really get real, and people need to stop acting like he can part the red sea and walk on water.

    January 29, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  24. Linda R. in W'bridge, VA

    What Obama did was rude. There is no way to spin this. McCaskills was not even talking and her own body language shows she was not engaged with Obama.

    Run Hillary Run............

    January 29, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  25. Audrey A.

    OMG....is there not something more newsworthy CNN? Like what is going on in Kenya. I wouldn't blame either of them if they snubbed each other (or will), it is an awkward situation during a campaign. Now, up and at 'em CNN...go follow something of interest.

    January 29, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
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